Special Report No. 106
The property taxA tax is a mandatory payment or charge collected by local, state, and national governments from individuals or businesses to cover the costs of general government services, goods, and activities. has been an enigmatic issue among economic and political scholars over the last century. Although the property taxA property tax is primarily levied on immovable property like land and buildings, as well as on tangible personal property that is movable, like vehicles and equipment. Property taxes are the single largest source of state and local revenue in the U.S. and help fund schools, roads, police, and other services. is the principal source of revenue for localities, broad consensus has not been reached on the basic issue of whether property taxes are regressive, proportional or progressive.
In 2001, state and local governments across the United States will collect an estimated $256 billion in property taxes.1 Approximately 95 percent of this total, $243
billion, will be collected by local government units including counties, cities, and school districts.
This survey of property tax collections also provides the reader with a basic understanding of property tax administration, as well as a primer on current economic thinking about how the property tax affects taxpayers and the economy.Share